The UN World Food Programme (WFP) on Friday warned that no fewer than 2.8 million people will face hunger in the coming months in the worst food crisis in a decade in Malawi.
This is according to a statement issued in New York by WFP Representative for Malawi, Coco Ushiyama.
The statement quoted Ushiyama as saying that people in some affected districts had already started selling their livestock to take care of their needs.
“Women are also engaging in more firewood and charcoal selling, which degrades the environment and further aggravates the fragile climate.”
The agency attributed the hunger situation to severe floods and drought that ruined this year’s harvest.
The statement said that the floods early this year were the worst in living memory in Malawi, washing away homes and food stocks and ruining fertile land.
It said that some crops managed to withstand the floods only to succumb to intense dry spells in the following months, making survival even more difficult for the most vulnerable.
“Since the end of last year, WFP has provided relief assistance to avert hunger in households hit by poor rainfall during the 2013/14 growing season and the floods in early 2015.
“This operation has reached more than one million vulnerable people.
“WFP, which is financed entirely by voluntary contributions from governments, companies and private individuals, is less than 25 per cent funded for the 81-million-dollar relief operation that lies ahead.
“Additional contributions are urgently needed,” said the statement.
The statement said that a swift response was imperative to save children’s lives and prevent worsening under-nutrition, particularly stunting among children.
It stressed that stunted growth limits cognitive development and has far-reaching effects on health and productivity over a lifetime.
According to the statement, a recent `Cost of Hunger in Africa’ report for Malawi estimated that stunting, which at 42 per cent is among the highest in the region, costs the nation nearly 600 million dollars annually.
NAN reports that the WFP alert comes a day after an appeal to the international humanitarian community made by the President of Malawi Peter Mutharika at the launch of the National Food Insecurity Response Plan. (NAN)